U.S. District Court Judge Garry Feess found that the time it takes an officer to dress for duty is part of their job because "police uniforms convey and legitimize officers' authority, increase officer safety and help deter crime."
The ruling applies to three cases brought by LAPD officers.
Judge Feess concluded that the 5 to 15 minutes it takes officers to put on and take off their uniforms falls under the compensation rules of the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act.
Police Chief William Bratton says the ruling is outrageous. "We have enough costs to bear without paying officers to take their clothes on and off," the Chief said in remarks quoted by the L.A. Times.
The lawyer for the officers who brought the lawsuits says their dressing time involves more than putting on a uniform.
Attorney Greg Petersen says putting on 30 pound equipment belts and body armor takes time. He says officers must also prepare their weapons and other equipment for duty. City News Service contributed to this story.